ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - As we celebrate African-American Heritage, we profile a local woman living a dream, a real trailblazer who is "What's Right With Tampa Bay."
For St. Petersburg College President Dr. Tonjua Williams, reuniting with former students like Deniann Grant allows her to pay forward success.
"I am amazed. I'm excited, I'm happy, I'm thrilled," she said. Dr. Williams is the first female African-American President of St. Petersburg College.
"For me, personally, I'm really living the dream," she said.
Her dream started in St. Pete, her hometown for more than 50 years.
"I think that I was always inquisitive, always willing to do something different," she said.
Dr. Williams helped to integrate Bogo Ciega High School in the late 70's. "There were still riots at the high school and different issues going on," Dr. Williams recalled.
Dr. Williams attended Clearwater Christian College and was awarded a bachelor's degree in Business Administration. Then, she earned her master's at USF, and finally a Ph.D in Higher Education Administration from Barry University.
"Put in the work listen, learn, be willing to step out your role and you can do anything that you aspire to do," she advised.
Dr. William has served as a mentor for those coming up behind her. "I always felt comfortable with asking her and she always took the time to explain what was going on," said Grant.
Dr. Williams hopes her achievements motivate students to achieve their own dreams through hard work, dedication, and passion.
"I think that it says to other young women and men that there is no glass ceiling, that you can do it, put your mind to it, go get the education," Dr. Williams says.
Dr. Tonjua Williams. Leading by example and encouraging others to do the same.